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Centre City Underpass Enhancement Program

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Investing in the underpasses that connect Downtown Calgary with the Beltline and Victoria Park is an important piece of The City’s Downtown Strategy – the effort to support and incentivize private investment, generate visits and spending, and provide amenities and services to enhance the quality of life for people living and working in Calgary’s downtown.

With 36,000 residents and over 161,000 Calgarians working in the downtown, the underpasses play a critical mobility role. The current physical condition of many of the railway underpasses contradicts their mobility and gateway functions.

In 2010 Council endorsed the “Downtown Underpass Urban Design Guidelines”. The guidelines promote a unified vision for the underpasses, with careful consideration for the local context and current state of each. The City has made significant improvements to several underpasses to date, with plans to improve others moving forward.

Macleod Trail S.E. and 1 Street S.E. Underpass

These two underpasses serve as vital pedestrian and cycle connections between the Stampede Grounds (and future site of the new events centre) and Calgary’s pedestrian hub, Stephen Avenue. The City has the opportunity to make several quick and low-cost improvements to both underpasses in 2019 and 2020.

The City has partnered with the Beltline Urban Murals Project (BUMP) to create murals on the walls of the 1 Street S.E. underpass. BUMP works with local artists, by funding the installation of murals throughout the Beltline. You can expect to see artists at work throughout September.

The City will also be improving the pedestrian experience of both underpasses and making them safer for users. This work, beginning this fall and continuing into 2020, will include fixing guard rails, resurfacing walkways, improving cleanliness and lighting, and adding wayfinding signs.

5 Street S.W. Underpass

The 5 Street S.W. underpass is a popular connection for pedestrians and cyclists. Built in the 1970s, it serves as a main gateway and key corridor for north-south movement between the communities of Beltline and Downtown Calgary. Currently the underpass’ cycle track averages over 1,185 riders each day with as many as 2,500 riders during peak days. More than 6,500 pedestrians pass under the rail tracks each day.

The City has completed the planning and design phase for the 5 Street S.W. Underpass Enhancement project. The underpass has been identified by The City as a priority for public realm improvements to increase the comfort of pedestrians using the site. Find out more detailed information about the project and engagement here.

4 Street S.W. Underpass

The 4 Street S.W. underpass is complete and open for people to use. The project includes new sidewalk concrete and retaining wall repairs, new handrails, a concrete framework for new stairs connecting to the 9 Avenue overpass, improvements to the 3 Street S.W. turnoff for increased pedestrian safety, and upgrades to the ENMAX underground duct banks.

The animated light and colour on both sides of the underpass contains thousands of LED lights which appear to be in motion. Following the concept of a mirrored silhouette, cameras will sense a person in the underpass and will project their shadow on the other side of the walkway which appears to be walking towards them.

The project design was developed by the Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative (MBAC) and integrates architecture, infrastructure and artwork into the redesign of the space. Internationally acclaimed artist Krzysztof Wodiczko is also part of the design team.

The budget for this project is $9.5 million, and includes a $1.115 million contribution from the Beltline Community Investment Fund.

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1 Street S.W Underpass

The 1 Street S.W. underpass is one of Calgary's two oldest surviving railroad bridges in the City. As the former site of the CPR station, 1 Street S.W. is an important piece of Calgary's heritage as it was the heart of the community and the site where thousands of people arrived and departed from the city. It helped transform Calgary from a small frontier town to a thriving cosmopolitan area.

Today, the 1 Street S.W. underpass serves as a high volume corridor for north-south pedestrian movement and is a key gateway into both the Beltline and Downtown. With over 9,500 pedestrians per day, the underpass sees the highest pedestrian usage of the downtown underpasses and its enhancement has been identified as a priority by the City of Calgary.

The Marc Boutin architectural collaborative was contracted to engage stakeholders in developing a schematic design. The purpose of the design was to celebrate the heritage of the underpass, its 'gateway' function to the downtown and other important urban design principles such as safety, connectivity, accessibility, vitality and beauty. In December 2012, the created schematic design was selected for a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence.

The 1 Street S.W. underpass enhancement project was completed in 2016.

8 Street S.W. Underpass

Built in 1910, the 8 Street S.W. underpass has served many generations of Calgarians​. It was identified as a priority improvement area due to continued high usage, averaging nearly 9,000 pedestrians per day.

Completed in 2016, the $8.8 million project includes new sidewalks and guardrails, new LED lighting, maintenance and painting of retaining walls and structural beams, and the installation of security cameras and call boxes for safety.

A unique public art installation featuring a captivating new work by David Rokeby reflects the heritage character of the underpass. Taking the form of an S-curve design, similar to the curve of railway rails crossing, the work stretches from above one sidewalk to the other. LED panels, placed on both sides of the piece, will scroll information, strongly reminiscent of watching a train go over a bridge. Some content will specifically be railway-related, containing snippets and fragments of Calgary’s past.

Learn more

Fill out the 311 online form​ if you have questions or require more information.


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